- Jakob Emdal

Jakob Emdal at Overgaden


This florid British working-class expression refers quite pictorially to the dominance of appearance over substance. Buy flashy curtains to keep up with the Joneses – and to hide your secret diet of inexpensive fish. The work of Danish artist Jakob Emdal, however, has both a fur coat and knickers. He reveals the frequently overlooked impact that contemporary exhibition design exerts on our experience and understanding of artworks.


The autonomy of art is an illusion. Design is everywhere. The purpose of an exhibition design is not always to intensify the artworks’ particular effects, but rather to harmonise all the various artifacts and thereby create a homogenous viewing experience. In some cases the display structures can even outshine the artworks and gain the lion’s share of the viewers’ attention.

Jakob Emdal’s installation Double Service at Overgaden, Copenhagen, has been influenced by the French exhibition designer Jean-François Bodin, who recently conceived the interior of the architectural museum La Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine in Paris. Nicolas Sarkozy inaugurated the museum in September 2007 after almost a decade of renovations, and committed himself “fully to this mission, to give back the possibility of boldness to architecture.” However, the only boldness here lies in the exhibition design itself. The artifacts, plaster casts of architectural elements, figures and portals of French buildings from various eras, are embedded in a “hyper-interior” of oddly-shaped pedestals, ox-blood coloured walls and matching sofas. The artifacts, mere reproductions and sad pars pro toto, are being devoured by their surroundings. Thus, a museum originally dedicated to French architectural heritage and mastery from the Middle Ages to the present day has in fact become just another example of French architecture and décor that mummifies the architectural objects on show.

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March 10, 2012
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Jakob Emdal

Intermediary Image, 2010, C-Print, 48 x 72 cm

August 31, 2011
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